This past Saturday, I risked the ire of the literary gods with the unleashing of “Ten Books Every Guy Should Read“. It was a prideful act, edging on pure hubris. Sleep was fitful and came in spurts that night, and the little sleep to be had was haunted by the echoes of thousands of excluded book titles. I expected to wake up Sunday morning, stroll to the end of the drive for the paper and be struck down, mid-stride, by a bolt of lightning cast straight from the heavens. In my mind’s eye I could already see Monday’s headline: “Aspiring Novelist and Blogger Receives Just Due.” But the Sunday morning paper run was lightning-free and visions of assured ruin quickly put to rest. But peace of mind is not so easily found.
Days later, sipping a coffee with too much cream and sugar, I found myself looming over my computer, wondering what to write. Then it came to me. Of course. The ledger remained unbalanced. I can write a wrong. (No, I will not apologize for that bad pun.) It would involve another crack at the proverbial Gordian Knot, but having tempted fate once, what’s twice for that matter?
So here I humbly stand, a literary supplicant seeking atonement for offending one of Abigail Adams’ most often quoted directives: “Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.” Within that vein, I’ve taken the liberty to compile “Ten Books Every Gal Should Read.” Audacious? Check. Presumptuous? Equally so. Fraught with danger? Undoubtedly. As the father of two daughters? A duty-bound necessity.
I could have taken the easy way out and merely referred the ladies to the same list this author compiled a few days ago for the guys. Indeed, by all means, please check out that list. But it cannot be left at that. Doing so would be unoriginal and intellectually dishonest and all together boring in the end. No fun to be found in that. But what are the criterion to be applied? Notoriety, relevance, longevity, educational component, literary excellence and entertainment value? All of those factors were considered, but I took the liberty of excluding transformative nonfiction. Those how-to types of books are better left to another post.
Finally, after three cups of watered down coffee and a hour and a half of furious writing and rewriting, here it follows, in no particular order:
The Bible. From Genesis to Revelations, no matter its version, no other literary work has benefited more from the invention of the printing press than the Bible.
George Orwell has a way of making top lists. “Animal Farm ” is one of those reasons why. Read it and you’ll never look at pork the same way again.
Threading a timeless theme, the historical romance epic “Gone With the Wind” has more than earned its widespread acclaim. Did I fail to mention it’s one of the all time top sellers in America, second onbly to the Bible? Take a bow, Margaret Mitchell.
Released in 1813 by British author Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice” tackles class distinctions, the inherent prejudices within the prevailing social strata, and how the power of love can overcome the cheapening of the human condition based on status.
Speaking of the human condition, few authors can hold a candle to the likes of Toni Morrison. Her passionate and insightful approach to the South’s peculiar institution and its correlative effects on those that suffered under its yoke are explored full bore in her Nobel winning novel, “Beloved“. Controversial and impactful, “Beloved” masterfully gives voice to a people that had been historically denied theirs.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald explores the hollowness of the American dream. Poetic, riveting and an all-time classic, this beautifully written novel explores the human condition as only a committed scholar of humanity can. Enjoy.
Written in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” is a work of historical fiction set in 17th century New England, a bastion of Puritan religiosity. Scorned and ostracized because of her sin, a young woman is forced to wear a badge of dishonor, the notorious scarlett letter “A”. Despite society’s condemnation and her shunning within the community, the young woman courageously maintains her dignity, refusing to reveal the identity of the man (a minister) who brought this dishonor upon her. Parallelling the Judeo-Christian tradition of Adam and Eve, the book heroically investigates sin and knowledge and the stern legalisms of Puritanical philosophy.
If you find the mysteries of China enticing and have an appetite for political and social upheaval, then “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck, is the book for you. A Pulitzer prize winning novel reknowned for its top billing in Oprah’s Book Club, this book shines with its compelling take on humanity’s struggle. Read it and find out for yourself.
In these times of rampant cynicism it is easy to lose faith in humanity’s propensity for goodness. That’s not a new phenomena. In “To Kill a Mockingbird“, the main theme is the moral nature of humanity and whether or not we are inherently good or evil, or maybe a dose of both. At least that’s what I gleaned from it.
“Little Women” by Louisa M. Alcott is deserving of its huge popularity and long run atop many book club reading lists. If you haven’t read it already, do so. You will not be disappointed.
And there you have it with a post-compilation admission: the task of selecting the works for the gals was a far more gut wrenching experience than putting the list together for the guys. The irony being that one could switch the guys/gals designation on either list.